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Wednesday 08 April 2009


True to life Transamerica?

Posted in: Movies
By Joanne Clarke - 15th January 2009

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TranSister Radio's Joanne Clark
Transamerica plays on TV2 this Monday, but is it an accurate depiction of a trans journey? Chch transgender broadcaster Joanne Clarke takes a look.

Transamerica shows us the journey of a trans woman working towards her surgery when a week out she receives a phone call from a son she never knew she had.

He is in trouble with the law and she unwillingly goes to help before her therapist will release the paperwork for her surgery. It is sort of a Trans, road trip, buddy, love story kinda movie. And it works.

"This is the voice I want to use" repeats Bree, a post-op transsexual trying to create a more feminine voice.

Transamerica is one of those rare movies that doesn't sensationalise the trans journey. We see a trans woman dealing with the cards she has been dealt, from the dysfunctional relationship with her dominant mother, to someone learning who they are.

Bree is convincingly played by Felicity Huffman (Lynette from Desperate Housewives). Those first shots of her remind me of a number of transwomen, early in their transition, I have known over the years. There is a loneliness and discomfort about being in her own skin that you can see in her walk.

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Road trip: Kevin Zegers & Felicity Huffman
Some parts of this film are almost like a fly on the wall documentary. There are some beautiful moments. One of my favorites is when she meets the Indian man and how he treats her.

There are a couple of things I thought were gratuitous like seeing her stand to pee, but they are small things that only someone trans would notice I think.

I love that they didn't give Bree a makeover and turn her into a beautiful woman at the end of the film, but instead you did see the woman in Bree shine and how she felt more comfortable in her own skin.

This is an honest well cast film with great performances from Felicity Huffman and handsome Kevin Zegers. Also Calpernia Addams appears in the movie, you may remember her story from the movie Soldiers Girl in which her partner Barry was murdered because he fell in love with a transsexual.

Transamerica is on TV2 at 8:30pm on Monday 19 January. The movie's trailer is shown below. And you can catch our reviewer Joanne Clarke on TranSister Radio, Tuesdays at 10pm on Christchurch's PlainsFM 96.9.


Joanne Clarke - 15th January 2009